Believers who function in the gift of prophecy are not necessarily prophets. Prophets are called by Christ to a greater level of service and responsibility within the body of Christ. Let me state it unequivocally: the gift of prophecy available to all Spirit-filled believers does not and cannot replace the prophet.
Note: In no way do I wish to mischaracterize the views or positions of the Assemblies of God. However, I am quoting statements from their published beliefs somewhat out of context for brevity. For a more complete presentation of their official perspective, please read sources referenced in the footnotes. I am only using the Assemblies of God publications as a source for discussion because they have made them publicly available, they present a common view, and they inspire conversation. Please read the full Intro & Disclaimer for my intentions and heart behind this series of posts.
In an article titled, “Prophets and Personal Prophecies,” the Assemblies of God states in three separate places:
After the Day of Pentecost, the prophet function could be fulfilled by any Spirit-filled believer God might choose. From one worship service to the next, a variety of believers could be channels for the gift of prophecy… 
The Assemblies of God believes the four gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers) were given to the Church, and that none of the gifts has been eliminated. Yet, we do not believe it is necessary to use the titles of apostles and prophets in order for those functions to be active in the world and the church today… 
Since the New Testament does not provide for establishing the prophet in a hierarchical governing structure of the church, the Assemblies of God disapproves of formally naming or declaring individuals as prophets in the church. Prophecy is a continuing gift of the Holy Spirit that is broadly distributed as the Spirit wills throughout Pentecostal churches. Paul spoke highly of the person who faithfully speaks the mind of the Spirit, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” (1 Cor. 14:1). We need the true prophetic word of the Spirit in our churches, but not human words purporting to be the voice of the Spirit. 
There are a number of misunderstandings represented here that we will address, but we will deal with them one at a time.
Prophets Versus Prophecy
The first common error to note in challenging the culture in the body of Christ in regards to prophetic ministry is the implication that the gift of prophecy is equal to a prophet. According to the entirety of the statements above, it does not seem that the Assemblies of God fully or officially believes that to be the case. But the statements also demonstrate the inconsistency and lack of clarity on the issue which tends to inspire people to believe that the sum total of a prophet is to prophesy. This is the real-world point of view that is formed from such official statements and the outcome which is most prevalent.
Since any Spirit-filled believer may function in the gift of prophecy in the New Covenant, the logical conclusion is that any believer can replace and fulfill the function of a prophet. This grave miscalculation hinders the development of real maturity in prophetic ministry within many local churches.
There is a vast difference between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the ministry offices or callings of Christ. Perhaps we can see it more clearly if we viewed teachers and evangelists with the same logic. All believers can and should evangelize, and Spirit-filled believers have been especially empowered to be witnesses for Christ. Yet, that doesn’t make all believers evangelists in the same sense as those who are called to the ministry office listed in Ephesians chapter four. The typical Spirit-filled believer certainly does not fulfill the ministry of a five-fold evangelist (or four-fold, as the Assemblies of God here infers). All believers can teach others what they know, and with the Holy Spirit’s prompting they may even share a key word in season. But that does not make all believers teachers who are called to a ministry office by Christ.
It’s like saying that every person who can use a hammer is a real carpenter, or that anyone who can cook a meal is an equal replacement for an actual chef. In the same way, no one is a prophet because they can prophesy any more than they are a fish because they can swim.
Tools Versus A Job
To illustrate this error more dramatically, let’s apply the same logic to the pastor. First we should note that word we understand to be pastor is typically translated in the bible as shepherd, and is barely mentioned at all as a title in comparison to the prophet—even in the New Testament. In that sense, there is more of a case for not “formally naming or declaring individuals” to be pastors than to do the same for prophets. But, more on that in a later post.
The office and purpose of a pastor is best illustrated by shepherding people. That speaks more of a job and role in dedicated service than of an ability, occasional function, or a tool of the trade. Their defining function does not relate to any one of the gifts of the Spirit, but in the New Covenant all believers are called to be ministers (2 Cor. 5) and are a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6, 5:10)— one which is greater than the Levitcal priesthood of the Old Covenant.
You would be hard pressed to prove that all believers should not do the things that a true pastor is devoted to doing, to some degree and within their sphere of relationships and personal influence. But of course there is a difference, just as there is a difference between a prophet and a believer functioning in the gift of prophecy. Yet if we applied the same logic consistently, then there would no longer be a need for anyone to be declared pastor. Of course, I do not agree with this statement. I am simply illustrating the point.
A Final Word
All prophets can prophesy but not all who prophesy are prophets. The gift of prophecy is only one of the tools that the prophet utilizes in the course of the fulfillment of their service and higher calling of God. The two are in no way equivalents. No one becomes a prophet because of an ability; God makes the same abilities available to all (1 Cor. 14:31). No one becomes a prophet because someone formally names or declares them to be so; prophets are called by God alone and later recognized by those who know their God. Not one Spirit-filled believer can fulfill the function of a prophet unless they have been called and commissioned by Christ to do so.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1, 2, 3.||»||http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/sptlissues_prophets_prophecies.cfm|
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for seventeen years, and is the proud father of two boys.